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A Letter Of Solidarity, From Gujarat To Kashmir

A group of 250 activists, academics, students, artists and concerned citizens of Gujarat have signed this letter to declare solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have been silenced and held captive in their own land. We call for a complete lift on the media and communications blockade, (including the restoration of internet services), the release of political prisoners detained without trial since August 5, the demilitarisation of Kashmir, and the initiation of a meaningful dialogue with the people of the region, on their future.

A Letter Of Support

On August 5, the Indian state unilaterally and without consultation with the Jammu and Kashmir legislature revoked the state’s right to self-governance. It brought the region under the direct control of the New Delhi government. In doing so, the central government displayed a blatant disregard for the nation’s founding principles of democracy, secularism, and justice. 

This was followed by a military blockade, and an unprecedented media and communications shutdown, which has lasted more than two months. The blockade has plunged the people of Jammu and Kashmir into fear and uncertainty and initiated a humanitarian crisis in the region. Kashmiris have been denied the basic civil liberties and freedoms of expression, information, assembly, movement and religion. Eid and Ashura passed as the clampdown continued, and Kashmiris both within and outside the state were unable to wish their family members. Even when an earthquake hit Mirpur, killing 38 and injuring hundreds, there was no media coverage of damages, injuries and fatalities on the Indian side of the LoC, leaving Kashmiris across India unable to contact their loved ones.

Despite mounting and credible evidence of human rights abuses and a healthcare crisis, from numerous international media sources and independent fact-finding missions, the Indian government continues to insist that everything in Kashmir has returned to ‘normal’. 

Military forces have detained thousands of people, among them politicians, leaders, lawyers, journalists, teachers, students, and children as young as ten. Civilians, including children, are being tortured and ruthlessly beaten, and subjected to electric shocks. 

In a report from BBC News, a civilian is quoted saying, “we told them we are innocent. We asked why they were doing this to us? But they did not listen to us. I told them don’t beat us, just shoot us. I was asking God to take me because the torture was unbearable.” 

Meanwhile, medical reports and hospital admission logs are being manipulated, in order to keep casualty reports low. Doctors report being under pressure not to issue death certificates. 

On August 15, as the rest of India celebrated independence from colonial rule, Kashmir went into an indefinite lockdown imposed by the Indian government. As India celebrated freedom, won through years of protest, civil disobedience, and a commitment to self-rule, Kashmiris were being denied those very liberties. 

With each passing day that this is allowed to continue, India inches closer to fascism, and further from democracy. While thousands protest outside the United Nations in New York, here in Ahmedabad the police refuse permission to protest. Gujarat is where the very spirit of dissent has been crushed, under the weight of a state, actively, and tacitly, supported by the majority. The state has attempted to control the media narrative, shuttered places of protest, and stifled age-old democratic institutions, like the Gujarat Vidyapith and the Mehdi Nawaz Jung Hall. The Sabarmati Riverfront, touted as a monumental reclamation of public space, does not allow for public assembly and dissent. 

Despite this, we assert that there are still voices in Gujarat calling for change, voices that some have tried their best to quell, but that refuse to remain silent. Among civil society leaders, there is a sense of fear, uncertainty and helplessness. And still, there is dissent. 

The Indian state has decided that the value of land is greater than that of human life. We cannot let this stand. We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Kashmiris, and demand that Kashmiri voices be heard.

Now, more than ever is the time to remember those who fought for our freedom, B.R. Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, among so many others. These freedom fighters had a dream for this country, a pluralist democracy, composed of states and peoples who willingly came together to preserve the idea of India. This dream of a free state, did not, and could not, have included shutting an entire people out of the democratic process and imprisoning them. 

It is imperative today, that we remember their vision of a state in which justice, equality, and peace could reach everyone. In their memory, we should fight for freedom once more, from those who wish to usurp the very idea of what this country stands for. 

We urge the Indian government to lift the communication and media blockade, restoring fundamental human rights to freedom of movement, assembly and information.

We call for the release of all political prisoners – leaders and young people – who have been detained without trial since August 5.

We call for the demilitarisation of Kashmir, and the initiation of a meaningful conversation with the Kashmiri people on the future of the state.

Signed,

In Gujarat

  1. Dev Desai, Social Activist, Anhad
  2. Maansi Shah, Teacher, CEPT University
  3. Sharik Laliwala, Researcher
  4. Maya Ratnam, Teacher, Ahmedabad University
  5. Akshaya Vijayalakshmi, IIM Ahmedabad
  6. Navdeep Mathur, Teacher, IIM Ahmedabad
  7. Inayat Singh Kakar, Researcher, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan
  8. Ishu Gupta, Researcher, IIM Ahmedabad
  9. Hiren Gandhi, Activist, Samvedan Samsritik Manch
  10. Aziz Minat, Concerned Citizen
  11. Shraddha Kulhari, Concerned Citizen
  12. Fr. Cedric Prakash, Activist
  13. Rakesh Basant, Concerned Citizen
  14. Dhaval M Chauhan, PhD Student, Gujarat University
  15. Parth Trivedi, Activist
  16. Poornima Varma, Academician
  17. Prasad Chacko, Social Worker
  18. Swati Goswami, Writer, Artists Unite Ahmedabad
  19. Rachana Mudraboyina, Transgender Rights Activist
  20. Anilbhai, Concerned Citizen
  21. Aparajith Ramnath, Academic
  22. Shyam Shah, Architect
  23. Jignesh Sengal, Banker 
  24. Nitish, Student, SFI
  25. Sonia Mishra, Concerned Citizen
  26. Bhargav Oza, Researcher
  27. Kavan Gediya, Student
  28. Dixit Kumar Parmar, Activist, RDAM
  29. Ikram Beg Mirza, President, Welfare Party of India, Gujarat
  30. Navdeep Mathur, Teacher, IIM Ahmedabad
  31. Mohammed Marfatiya, Concerned Citizen
  32. Maneksha Varghese, Concerned Citizen
  33. Suahila, Concerned Citizen
  34. Sejal Dand, Activist
  35. Atish Indrekar Chhara, Theatre Activist, Budhan Theatre
  36. Ghanshyam Patel, Concerned Citizen
  37. Rathore Rameezkhan, Teacher, Azad Foundation
  38. Krishnakant, Volunteer, NAPM
  39. Prashant Patel, Photojournalist, Amar Photography
  40. Ketan Satish Deshmukh, Student, IIM Ahmedabad
  41. Svati Shah, Concerned Citizen
  42. Nirjhari Sinha, Activist, Jan Sangharsh Manch
  43. Ghanshyam Shah, Retired Professor, JNU
  44. Abbas Ghulam Mehdi, Teacher
  45. Persis Ginwalla, Concerned Citizen
  46. Firoz Rangrez, Politician
  47. Daud N. Kitharia, Activist, Action for Juhapura Infrastructure Movement (AJIM)
  48. Rohit Prajapati, Activist
  49. Nimmi Chauhan, Independent Development Communications Practitioner
  50. Aruna, Concerned Citizen
  51. Neha Shah, Teacher
  52. Danish Qureshi, Legal Activist, Democratic Minority Forum
  53. Varadharajan Ramakrishnan, Software Entrepreneur
  54. Rachana Varadharajan, Pharma Industry – Operations
  55. Balendra Vaghela, Concerned Citizen
  56. Huma Nizami, Teacher
  57. Riaz Motiwala, Concerned Citizen
  58. Divya R., Concerned Citizen
  59. Najir Patel, Activist, Ahmedabad Task Force
  60. Adil, Concerned Citizen
  61. Kadir Shaikh, Concerned Citizen
  62. Ammar, Teacher
  63. Salman Mansuri, Concerned Citizen
  64. Salim Mansuri, Concerned Citizen
  65. Aslam Langha, Social Worker
  66. Tofik Kazi, Android Developer
  67. Naeem Ansari, Service
  68. Murtaza T Madraswala, Versatile Designer
  69. Saiyed Mohsin Saiyedali, Tailor, SDPI / ATF
  70. Saiyed Mohammedyunus, Police Service
  71. Shabana Patel, Activist
  72. Mirza SoyebBeg YashinBeg, Student 
  73. Mohammadfarhaz Shaikh, Student
  74. Ansari Akib Ali Akbar Ali, Student
  75. Javed Gori, Self Employed
  76. Vhora Alfaz, Concerned Citizen
  77. Zakwan Mansuri, Data Scientist
  78. Ashraf Husen Liyakat Husen Shaikh, Student
  79. Gautam Priyadarshi, Student
  80. Ali, Concerned Citizen
  81. Tausifahmed Diwan, Underwriter, Star Health
  82. Isharahmad Khalilullakhan Pathan, Manager
  83. Gulammohiyuddin Muntazimoddin Kazi, Engineer, Tuv Sud South Asia Pvt Ltd
  84. Azhar Saiyed, Architect And Social Worker
  85. Natasha M., Concerned Citizen
  86. Sumaiya, Government Servant
  87. Leepi Agrawal, QA Engineer, Automation Anywhere
  88. Mridul Gupta, Student
  89. Dishant Lodaliya, Concerned Citizen
  90. Nachiketa Desai, Freelance Journalist
  91. Abdul Hafiz Lakhani, Editor, Gujarat Siyasat Newspaper
  92. J.S.Bandukwala, Concerned Citizen
  93. Munawar Hussain, Journalist
  94. Shamshad Pathan, Lawyer, Alp Sankhyak Adhikar Manch
  95. Imran Bhohariya, Social Worker
  96. Sameer Yadav, Academic Associate, Anant National University
  97. Neha Patel, Student 
  98. Bhavesh Jain, Gandhinagar Institute of Technology
  99. Amaani Vaniya, Concerned Citizen
  100. Manav Sumara, Concerned Citizen
  101. Abdul Qayyum, Concerned Citizen
  102. Joseph Mattam, Emeritus Professor
  103. Reetika Khera, IIM Ahmedabad
  104. Payal Ganga, Student
  105. Salim Hafezi, Concerned Citizen
  106. Terrin Manjila, Student
  107. Navnath Baliram Sonwane, Student
  108. Prof Mehboob Desai 
  109. Nikhil Sharma, Teacher
  110. Rajan, Business Owner
  111. Ayush Patel, Student
  112. Sneha Jain, Student
  113. Renu Khanna, Development Professional
  114. Stalin K., Concerned Citizen
  115. Uttam Parmar, Activist 
  116. Vishal Rajput, Student
  117. Sulekha, Student
  118. Rafi Malek, Activist
  119. Anurag Shukla, Doctoral Student, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
  120. Farooq Abdulgafar Bawani, Freelancer 
  121. Utpal Anish, Research Scholar, Gujarat Vidyapith
  122. Malek Atik, Student
  123. Akki, Student 
  124. Sameer Yadav, Academic Associate, Anant National University
  125. Simran Mulchandani, Student
  126. Raghavan Rangarajan, Professor
  127. Viral Shankarbhai Konkani, Social Worker, Adivasi Ekta Parishad
  128. Karthik Rao Cavale, Assistant Professor, Ahmedabad University
  129. Manas Kandi, Research Scholar, Central University of Gujarat
  130. Jay Patel, Student
  131. Svati Joshi, Academic, Activist
  132. Hiren Patel, Concerned Citizen
  133. Harsh Kinger, Student, MSU

 

In India (outside Gujarat)

  1. Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, Anhad
  2. Sathya S, Consultant and Activist
  3. Dr. Sylvia Karpagam, Public Health Doctor
  4. Jimmy Regina C. Dabhim, Navsarjan, Xavier’s Cell for Human Development
  5. Saravanan V, MPhil Scholar, Delhi
  6. K. M. Shrimali, Former Professor of History, Delhi University
  7. Kamayani Swami, Concerned Citizen
  8. CB Choudhary, Activist, Samajwadi Jan Parishad
  9. Anand Teltumbde, Teacher, Goa Institute of Management
  10. Jagmohan Singh, Activist, General Secretary Association For Democratic Rights (Punjab)
  11. Tushar Parmar Marxpriya, Communist Party of India (RP)
  12. Mohd Abuzar , Activist, Anhad
  13. Dr. Sylvia Karpagam, Public Health Doctor and Researcher
  14. Dr. Batul Hamid, Principal, Viva College of Law
  15. Manjusha Bhagade, Lawyer
  16. Dr. Swati Lavand, Professor, Sardar Patel College of Engineering
  17. Runu Chakraborty, Activist
  18. Prasad Chacko, Social Worker
  19. Bindu A Karedan, Concerned Citizen
  20. Owais Afzal Khan, Indian National Congress Volunteer
  21. Laboni Singh, Activist
  22. Shanmuga Pillai, Concerned Citizen
  23. Chinmoyee Roy Chowdhury, Concerned Citizen
  24. Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Insurance Advisor, Atheist Republic Kolkata Consulate
  25. Arun Prasad Sinha, Activist
  26. Balaji Gurude, Farmer 
  27. Dr. Dev, Shayar, Writer, Teacher
  28. Akash Debnath, Concerned Citizen
  29. Dr. Manchala Gangadhar, Chief Editor, Democratic Teachers’ Federation
  30. Amar Nath Parcha, Activist
  31. Ritesh Nath Tiwari, Concerned Citizen
  32. Amitabha Basu, Retired Scientist
  33. Jasvir Singh Arora, Concerned Citizen
  34. Dimple Oberoi Vahali, Concerned Citizen
  35. Atul Mhase, Software Professional
  36. CMRB India, Consultant
  37. Rachana Desai, Homemaker
  38. Harishchandra, Activist, Anhad
  39. Sokat Malik, Social Worker
  40. Saify Saraiya, Life and Wellness Coach, ZVM
  41. Monalisa, Professional
  42. Armaan, Concerned Citizen
  43. Talaha Nandoliya, Civil Engineer
  44. Dr. Shaheen Ansari, Program Coordinator, Arkitect India
  45. Sujata Patel, National Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study
  46. Nazim Shekh, Senior Citizen 
  47. Vimal Bhanot, Retired Professor
  48. Bharat Chitale, Advocate
  49. Amrita, Researcher, Wildlife Institute Of India
  50. Antonio Jose F.X. Colaco, Retired Banker
  51. Teesta Setalvad, CJP
  52. Chitransh Saxena, President, Padbank
  53. D. Parthasarathy, Teacher
  54. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Activist
  55. Jitendra, Student 
  56. Mahesh Kumar, Freelance Journalist
  57. Sudhir Chopra, Retired Joint Director 
  58. Asha D’Souza, Consultant on Development and Labour Rights
  59. Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, JNU
  60. Ranjeet Kindo, Director, Tribal Research and Training Centre
  61. Tapan Bose, Filmmaker, Writer & Human Rights Defender
  62. Dr. Lubna Sarwath, Telangana State General Secretary, Socialist Party(India)
  63. Arun Kumar, Concerned Citizen
  64. Ms. Rahman, Professor
  65. Harshit Mitruka, Concerned Citizen
  66. Hussain A Babat, Compliance Officer, IMS
  67. Ritik Raj, Student, Law College Dehradun
  68. Prakash Louis, Teacher
  69. Ameer, Concerned Citizen
  70. Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, Teacher
  71. Madhu Bhaduri, Retired Ambassador Of India
  72. Kalpana Kannabiran, Concerned Citizen
  73. Tehzeema, Concerned Citizen
  74. Irfan Engineer, Concerned Citizen
  75. Faraz Ahmad, Freelance Journalist
  76. Asha Ahmad, Retired Ophthalmologist
  77. G. Thiraviyam, Concerned Citizen
  78. Subhasis Bandyopadhyay, Faculty, Iiest, Shibpur
  79. Pamela Philipose, Journalist, Public Editor, The Wire
  80. Sannybhai, Activist
  81. R. Govinda, Professor, Council For Social Development
  82. Bianca, Concerned Citizen
  83. Appanasamy, Journalist
  84. Ram Naresh Jha, Retired School Teacher, PUCL
  85. E. Donald Xavier, Director, Green India Foundational Trust
  86. Nidhi, Concerned Citizen
  87. Abhinav Jain, Co-founder, Oye24
  88. P. Kerketta, Activist
  89. Anjali Noronha, Concerned Citizen
  90. George K., Concerned Citizen
  91. Preeti, Development Worker
  92. Sr. Sudha, Social Worker, Arpanam Trust
  93. Samuel Asir Raj S., Professor

 

International

  1. Arul Anthony, Australia 
  2. Malik Malik, Data Analyst, United States 
  3. Nikeeta Shah, Student, United States 
  4. Rishi Doshi, Doctor, United States 
  5. Pooja Doshi, Physical Therapist, United States 
  6. Fatima Hassan, Student, United States 
  7. Elle Davidson, Student, United States
  8. Aaron Dickinson, United States
  9. Heena Shah, Physician, United States
  10. Arul Pandian, Australia
  11. Apurva Shah, Physician, United States
  12. Samir Shah, Student, United States
  13. Ghazia Shamim, Student, Canada
  14. Nagarajan V., Student (Studying Abroad), Germany
  15. Saifuddin Mohd, Activist, United States 
  16. Tina, Attorney, United States 
  17. Neel Doshi, Physician, United States 
  18. Bhaswati Bhattacharya, Sr. Research Fellow, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Germany
  19. Zeelan Bahsha, Accountant, UAE
  20. Rimsha Chaudhry, Student, United States
  21. Prof. Ismail Poonawala, Professor Emeritus UCLA, United States
  22. Rao Rampilla, Actor, United States
  23. Stephen Perenara Marr, Maori, Councilor Local Government, New Zealand
  24. Shaukat Ajmeri, Canada
  25. Sarah Kuo, Environmental Scientist, United States
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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